Focus; June 23, 2020

Isaiah 58:8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

To me, this whole chapter is about one thing: getting your focus off of yourself and putting it on God and your fellow man. The whole thing is Isaiah speaking directly for God, and he is remarkably direct. There are lots of wonderful promises in this chapter, but they are thoroughly intermingled with the conditions necessary for their fulfillment. The early part of the chapter mentions people complaining that they have done the proper religious things, but God has not kept up His end of the deal. God’s response is that when we ignore the needs of the people around us, we can’t expect Him to do anything about our needs. Motive is essentially everything. Right now we are in the middle of a lot of people making a lot of noise about injustice. Some of them are genuinely sincere, but a lot seem motivated largely by material and political gain. The raw thirst for power can be downright revolting. We all want this verse to be true for us, but it is meaningless for many in the current turmoil because they have nothing to do with righteousness, and the glory of the Lord would be an absolute terror for them. In this chapter the Lord goes on to speak of honoring the Sabbath, which is a bedrock of His plan for us to acknowledge Him every day of the week. Practically the whole of society today considers that very “quaint,” an outmoded idea from ancient times. Conversely, Orthodox Jews take it very legalistically, and still manage to miss the gracious, loving Lord who instituted the Sabbath for our benefit. Being self-centered gets in the way of every one of the blessings God has prepared for us.

I am fundamentally as self-centered as anyone, and I have missed a lot of blessings because of it. God has been incredibly gracious to me, but I sometimes wonder how things would be if I had responded properly to everything, instead of being focused on I-my-me-mine. I see people around me who are constantly wounding themselves and those around them by their very self-centeredness, and it is tragic. The Japanese for this verse says, “Your wounds will quickly be healed.” We seldom realize how many of our wounds are self-inflicted! We all go through a lot of junk in life, just as Jesus cautioned us, (John 16:33) but what wounds us isn’t so much what we go through as how we respond to it. When we indeed “Fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith,” (Hebrews 12:2) we will see the needs around us and be His agents in meeting those needs, and nothing will be able to do us any lasting damage.

Father, thank You for this strong reminder. I am bombarded with requests for money, and some of them seem to be very noble causes indeed, but I turn them all off because of the sheer volume. Help me be available to You to meet the needs You want me to be involved in, and not shy away from giving money, either. Help me be so focused on You that I can see clearly what You want me to do as Your agent, for the blessing of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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